06 SES 09 A, Learning, Playing & Reflecting
This paper contributes to the ECER 2021 conference theme of how social values and divergent social worlds could be reconciled. An example of a daily media practice shall be discussed that has been analysed as peer related and not in relation to societal developments: Instant Messaging. It shall be examined, to what extend data on media activities among young people inspire new ways of understanding how daily media practices carry on societal values. The question presented here has emerged during a research project and will be investigated in a follow-up analysis of the rich data collected. Consequences for acknowledging social media as a process of reproduction and negotiation within societal developments shall be posed together with new ways to investigate media practices. The aim is to better understand deep mediatization and its impact on young peoples’ growing into society.
In this spirit a recently finalised study investigates school classes as communicative figurations (Hepp and Hasebrink 2018) of a specific actors constellation, implementing a media ensemble into their communicative practice towards thematic frames of relevance. Young people use a wide array of media to stay in touch with friends, but also for keeping up with their classmates when they are out of school. Instant-Messaging has taken a top position when it comes to mobile communication among teens since the establishment of Chats on computers (Grinter and Palen 2002), peaking in the ubiquitous use of WhatsApp as its most recent form. Instant-Messaging interactions have developed towards a research interest regarding transmedia skills (Costa-Sánchez and Guerrero-Pico 2020), knowledge sharing (Asterhan and Bouton 2017) and have even been discussed as a learning management tool (Cetinkaya 2017). In a close investigation of a school class and its media environment, Livingstone and Sefton-Green (2016) first investigated the role of social media in the connection of classmates as well as the entanglement of online and offline social relationships. They understand school classes as a special form of social groups, constituted by institutional decisions and developing towards a group of peers, drawn together by a mix of utility and significance (Livingstone and Sefton-Green 2016). Their results suggest hopes of teachers for students to transfer norms and values held high at school and during lessons within their interaction. These values relate to dealing with each other in a civil manner and transcending borders of socio-economic differences (Livingstone and Sefton-Green 2016).
Throughout the presented study one leading question was followed: How is agency (Emirbayer and Mische 1998) constituted within self-administrated Instant-Messaging groups of classmates. The analysis was conducted in two phases of initial and focused theoretical sampling and coding. A set of methods was used to grasp the phenomenon of Instant-Messaging among classmates. Based on the model of Livingstone and Sefton-Green (2016), Social Network Analysis was combined with individual and group data collection containing an open questionnaire and focus group interviews. The data were analysed and coded following strategies of Constructionist Grounded-Theory (Charmaz 2006). A closer look will be taken into media practices within so-called “classroom-chats”, where classmates meet based on their membership in the same school class regardless of other social preferences. Amongst a variety of topics that constituting frames of relevance within the groups, the pupils also negotiate the purpose of a given chatgroup as well as rules they negotiate and follow. What also occurred in a deeper analysis is that within their interaction, traces of school policy and teacher values become visible and are negotiated within their media practice. These indications shall be pursued further towards an understanding of the connections between teacher-class and peer-to-peer interaction, found in most unexpected contexts, such as Instant-Messaging chatgroups.
In the course of the study two phases of data collection were conducted. One within a project context, collecting media diaries of a large group of pupils in 2018 (Rummler, Author, and Schneider Stingelin 2020) and a second one, focusing on three school classes that were selected in a theoretical sampling process during the analysis following the first data collection period (Author 2021). This second period focused on Instant Messaging in school classes and did so by combining Social Network Analysis, individual, open questionnaires, as well as focus group interviews to look at the phenomenon from different angles. The data were analysed separately and combined through a theory-building process following guidelines of Constructionist Grounded-Theory (Charmaz 2006). The analysis for the research question addressed in this submission will focus on the transcribed focus groups. These were conducted in three school classes with a total of 48 pupils (20 f, 28 m) in groups of 7, 11 and in one case a whole school class of 15 pupils, aged 13-16 years from secondary I schools (class years 8 to 9). As a stimulus for the focus groups, the chat protocol of the classroom chat was used, brought to the setting by pupils on their own smartphones. Throughout the interviews, references to the chat protocols were made by the students as well as requested by the moderator to illustrate examples, and then selected by the participants. This ensured consent towards the insight into their conversations as well as authenticity of the focused stimulus. All interviews were transcribed and coded in MAXQDA following Grounded-Theory strategies of initial and focused coding and comparison with the other data. The objective was to develop a data driven theory model for media practice among school classes at the example of Instant Messaging, drawing upon sensitizing concepts of agency (Emirbayer and Mische 1998) and classic understandings of Bildung as an emerging relation between the self, others and towards the world (Meder 2011).
Livingstone makes the case, that in addressing social and digital change, it is essential to «work with rather than against young people’s imperatives as agents» (Livingstone 2017, 64). Within Instant-Messaging groups pupils discuss a variety of topics, ranging from arrangements of meetings, to talking about school, assignments, teachers and peer topics. These thematic frames are subject to constant negotiation alongside a set of values and rules developing throughout the interactions. In a deeper analysis traces of school policy and teacher values become visible as they are negotiated within the media practice whilst chatting and sharing a variety of self-produced and remixed media contents with each other. A closer look will be taken on three aspects: 1. School policy: Pupils are divided into different performance levels when they transfer from seventh to eighth grade in Switzerland. Instant-Messaging practices change in reaction to the separation of classmates. The full variety of educational opportunities, aspirations and fear of relegation shows itself in the way the classroom chats transform, visible in changes in the actor constellation and the ways of addressing and processing changes throughout the group interaction. 2. Teachers’ values: The ways in which pupils establish rules and values within the Instant-Messaging groups is influenced (not determined) by the way teachers address the activities during class. Different types of teacher interventions could be found in the data and their effects will be discussed based on three case studies. 3. Homework sharing: Homework as a topic appears throughout the data in many forms, one of which is the sharing of homework related content. Against the presupposition that pupils use the groups to copy homework, a more complicated practice of “giving and taking” alongside a set of values mirroring school practices rewarding effort and sanctioning laziness and attempts of cheating could be revealed.
Asterhan, Christa S. C., and Edith Bouton. 2017. ‘Teenage Peer-to-Peer Knowledge Sharing through Social Network Sites in Secondary Schools’. Computers & Education 110 (July): 16–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2017.03.007. Author. 2021. ‘Die vernetzte Schulklasse: Exploration zu Konstruktionen individueller und kollektiver Lernaktivitäten am Beispiel von WhatsApp-Gruppenchats’. MedienPädagogik: Zeitschrift für Theorie und Praxis der Medienbildung 16 (Jahrbuch Medienpädagogik): 79–107. https://doi.org/10.21240/mpaed/jb16/2021.01.13.X. Cetinkaya, Levent. 2017. ‘The Impact of WhatsApp Use on Success in Education Process’. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning 18 (7): 59–74. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i7.3279. Charmaz, Kathy C. 2006. Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide through Qualitative Analysis. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Costa-Sánchez, Carmen, and Mar Guerrero-Pico. 2020. ‘What Is WhatsApp for? Developing Transmedia Skills and Informal Learning Strategies Through the Use of WhatsApp—A Case Study With Teenagers From Spain’: Social Media + Society, July. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120942886. Emirbayer, Mustafa, and Ann Mische. 1998. ‘What Is Agency?’ American Journal of Sociology 103 (4): 962–1023. https://doi.org/10.1086/231294. Grinter, Rebecca E., and Leysia Palen. 2002. ‘Instant Messaging in Teen Life’. In Proceedings of the 2002 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work - CSCW ’02, 21. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA: ACM Press. https://doi.org/10.1145/587078.587082. Hepp, Andreas, and Uwe Hasebrink. 2018. ‘Researching Transforming Communications in Times of Deep Mediatization: A Figurational Approach’. In Communicative Figurations: Transforming Communications in Times of Deep Mediatization, edited by Andreas Hepp, Andreas Breiter, and Uwe Hasebrink, 15–48. Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-65584-0_2. Livingstone, Sonia. 2017. ‘The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age’. In Present Scenarios of Media Production and Engagement, edited by Simone Tosoni, Nico Carpentier, Maria Francesca Murru, Richard Kilborn, Leif Kramp, Risto Kunelius, Anthony McNicholas, Tobias Olsson, and Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, 12:55–65. The Researching and Teaching Communication Series. Bremen: Edition Lumiere. Livingstone, Sonia, and Julian Sefton-Green. 2016. The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age. Connected Youth and Digital Futures. NYU Press. https://books.google.ch/books?id=4ATMCgAAQBAJ. Meder, Norbert. 2011. ‘Von Der Theorie Der Medienpädagogik Zu Einer Theorie Der Medienbildung’. In Medialität Und Realität: Zur Konstitutiven Kraft Der Medien, edited by Johannes Fromme, Stefan Iske, and Winfried Marotzki, 67–81. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-531-92896-8_5. Rummler, Klaus, Author, and Colette Schneider Stingelin. 2020. ‘Pupils and Their Media Ecology: Emerging Cultural Practices at the Example of Homework and Media’. Revista Comunicar 28 (56). https://doi.org/10.3916/C65-2020-09.
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